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It is sincerely hoped that this paper will serve as productive addition to the ongoing conversation around art and intellectual property law. This paper represents a moment in time amidst quickly changing attitudes, practices, and legal interpretations. Certainly, the same issues covered here will need to be redressed in the future as new cases, projects, and ideas emerge.
John Sobol said that he once asked his college class of forty students who among them downloaded music from the Internet. All but four replied that they did. The reasons the remaining four abstained from downloading were mainly technical and logistical. When Sobol asked whether the legality or ethicality of downloading might have been a reason to abstain, the class broke into laughter. Sobol points out that this future generation of decision-makers has grown up with re-mix culture and has developed decidedly different values about the fluidity of content. While they will of course eventually become influenced by economic concerns, Sobol predicts that their underlying values will cause this generation to substantively change intellectual property law. However, that will not happen without inter-generational conflict. Sobol concludes that if cultural organizations stand by during this silent conflict, maintaining their status quo, they may not be toppled per se, but they may be simply ignored and starved into cultural irrelevance as society remakes itself.
Luckily, there is much the cultural community can speak to here, and much we can do.
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